TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Taiwan's Starlux Airlines is urging Airbus to expedite aircraft deliveries as the airline aims to extend its network beyond Asia to accommodate surging post-pandemic demand, according to the company's CEO.

As Taiwan's most recent full-service carrier, Starlux began operations in 2020 and currently flies to destinations such as Tokyo, Bangkok, Macau, Hanoi, and Singapore. The airline, which exclusively operates Airbus aircraft, competes with well-established Taiwanese carriers China Airlines and Eva Airways, both of which are upgrading and expanding their fleets with Boeing 787s.

In October, Starlux received the first of 18 A350s as it broadens its reach to long-haul flights from Taipei, with Los Angeles being the initial destination. The airline, which also utilizes the A330neo, anticipates acquiring five widebody jets in the coming year, but CEO Glenn Chai says this is insufficient to meet the robust post-pandemic demand.

Chai stated that while they have encouraged Airbus to deliver the planes as soon as possible, the manufacturer's current production rate is unable to match pre-pandemic levels. Starlux is concentrating on North America for the time being, with plans to launch a San Francisco route by year's end. The airline aims to cater to transit passengers due to the limited size of its domestic market.

Chai mentioned that New York is a priority, but aircraft deliveries will dictate the timeline. He expressed frustration with Airbus's inability to fulfill their requirements. While Airbus confirmed it is in direct communication with all its clients, the company declined to comment on specific discussions with individual airlines. The manufacturer has, however, reiterated its production goals for 2024 and beyond.

Chai revealed that Starlux, which reported a net loss of T$5.3 billion (S$231 million) last year, plans to expand its fleet to 39 planes in the "first phase" and later to 50, potentially considering Boeing aircraft depending on pricing. He welcomed Boeing's participation in the pricing process and emphasized that they were not ruling the company out. Chai also mentioned that, while their primary focus for long-haul flights is North America, they eventually plan to operate routes to Europe and Australia.